Hello everyone! This is my first race report, so bear with me here. I'm a junior racer starting to do USCF-sanctioned races, but my experience so far has been with my club and its very well-organized winter series. Last weekend, the 32-mile road race took place at Uvas Dam in Morgan Hill, California.
I got my bike and read my dad the directions to the registration site as we helplessly wandered further and farther, but we get there well on time and I get signed in and my race number pinned. Before I look for my other junior friends, I realized that I was waaay underdressed for the 40 degree weather. While everyone else had had the vests and numerous layers, I've was only equipped with a Craft long sleeved base layer and a pair of leg warmers. But by then it was too late to do anything; time to be a man!
I was slightly disappointed but also optimistic about my sandbaggery. On one hand, while I wouldn't get to race with my friends who were upgraded to the 4s the year before I joined the club, I stood a slightly better chance in the 5s (yeah, right). It's kind of a misnomer, really - the 5s are really strong 4s and 5s, while the 4s are seeded with some 3s.
My warm up was botched because I ran out of time, and the race starts. I figured I'd warm up while the race was going at a pretty mellow pace. It consisted of a few sprints (told the guys before I did them, so as not to irritate them) and some mellow recovery-paced riding while sitting in. Right as it started, the more experienced guys were able to arrange us in a double rotating paceline, so no fusterclucking around, they gave the impression.
Halfway through the first lap of the two lap race, the pace started to slowly pick up. Our pulls began to get shorter but faster as we neared the dreaded WALL. ''THE WALL'' is about five hundred metres of a grueling 15-20% grade. Seeing as how I had let the others work harder than me up until this point, I proceeded to get to the front. When the road turned up I immediately put the hammer down so that the 4s, who started three minutes behind us, wouldn't have as much of a chance to catch us.
If any of you guys are out there reading, I know you didn't get much of a draft at five-and-a-half miles an hour, but hey, tough luck .
Fortunately, the race then turned downhill (fortunately, not figuratively) and I let any stragglers catch up on the descent. From the looks of it, two of the guys, Derek and David, had planned to attempt a breakaway but gave up, as they realized the two of them going at it alone would weaken all of us. I then made a mental note to watch them throughout the rest of the race as they were easily the two strongest guys out there. The road then turned up again, to about a 4-5% grade and we made it to one lap without being caught.
On one of the shallower descents, a chase car (driven by none other than the father of one my close friends who could not race today because he had an unfortunate ''finger separation'' accident while ''playing'' with his new track bike) tells us we have one-and-a-half minutes left on the 4s. For some reason, we immediately slowed down, either demoralized or just plain tired out, so I got up and started making people suffer. David also gets up there with me, realizing our opportunity.
As we proceeded (very quickly, I might add) down a very sharp right turn, David and I cut to the inside and gained a good gap on everyone else except Derek. However, all of us then heard a sharp *pinging* sound and Derek drops back.
No mercy! We could not afford to wait for him, as, at this point, we were losing ground to the groups started after us. As we made our right hand turn onto The Wall, I looked back and said, ''4s coming up. LET'S GO GUYS GO!'' David said, ''We're screwed,'' and immediately jumped in attack. I follow his wheel and make ''get on my wheel!'' signs to my rear tire to everyone else, as I don't want to lose too many more people. The Wall then got steep, and steeper as two 2s, in a breakaway, said some indiscernible words of encouragement (them breathing too hard to talk, us breathing too hard to hear) and rode upwards at a phenomenal pace.
The entire 2 pack then passed David and I as we proceeded to drop every other 5. David gets out of the saddle and starts trying to hitch on like a madman, but I stay seated and mash my way up. By the top, David and I were back on level terms as we drop downhill again. Thing is, he didn't know that, and I'm there just sitting on his wheel while invisibly calling his bluff. That didn't last long, though - he looked back and discovered me, grinning.
My quads and both my calves then started to seize up and cramp. The final ascent had me screaming in agony with every pedal stroke, and as I crawled past David, I saw his shadow stand up, dial it 400 watts, and then sit down, because unless he had been racing, there was no way he could match my speed.
I put my hands up in victory, but I soon slumped over the bars and hit a stop sign.
Sorry for the length, guys, I'm just a detailed person. Thanks for reading!
EDIT: Yep, so basically I won and our main objective was to stay away from the 4s. The 1s, 2s, and 3s caught us but that didn't matter. Now it's time for me to get shelled in the REAL races .